The big and small ends of politics

It’s the big end of politics that matters to people. It is the small end of politics that is usually engaging. So with the past fortnight. At the small end have been Colin Craig and David Smol. At the big … Continue reading

Is NZ still actually a “good global citizen”?

A speech last Wednesday by Michael Woodhouse had a poignant relevance to a landmark conference at Otago University this weekend and New Zealand’s leading United Nations role in July. Woodhouse, who is Minister of Immigration, was marking world refugee day. … Continue reading

Reserve Bank to you: pay more for what you buy

The Reserve Bank last week joined the global pack. If the world’s big central banks are lax, what choice does Graeme Wheeler have in this tiny backwater? And Bill English has shown no interest in lightening his load. Back in … Continue reading

Global citizens in a world of disorder

Comments to the Wairarapa branch of the Institute of International Affairs, 9 June 2015 The world is in a disorderly phase. This is driven in part by geopolitical and geo-economic events, including the mass movement of people, and in part … Continue reading

The modern relevance of an 800-year-old charter

Sport is business. Business is money. Big sport is big money. World soccer bosses have been playing the game — just as “athletes” take drugs and cricketers help bettors. The payoff for the public is big circuses. And not many … Continue reading

A next-generation leader focused long-term

Kevin Hague typecast himself out of a future-maker role for the Greens when he called James Shaw a “metrosexual”, a word from a past era. Shaw said he was “not even sure what that means”. Shaw is 42. He is … Continue reading

When a levy isn’t a tax and Greens aren’t green

Bill English has a degree in English, which should have inculcated respect for correct word use — if he hadn’t become a politician, a breed which bends language for good and ill. So in claiming not to break an election … Continue reading

Children and steady-as-you-go – but how steady?

There are three political dimensions to the budget’s star “children in hardship” item. One is John Key’s ownership. That fits his protestations of concern about disadvantaged children — though action has been slow coming. He made his pile in finance. … Continue reading

Customer-driven flexibility underlies the budget

Who said: “The public service is a bit too responsive to politicians”? A lofty academic? A public servant bemoaning servile bosses? It was Bill English last week. Set aside that usually ministers complain public servants are not responsive — servile … Continue reading

National symbols and brands for the future

Where do the flag, water policy and climate change action meet? Where do they not meet? And what have they got to do with the budget? Start with the flag. It is a symbol. It says we are South Britain, … Continue reading